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Patch Adams (A Movie Review)

Updated: Sep 2, 2022


Starring Robin Williams, Daniel London, Monica Potter, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bob Gunton, Josef Sommer, Irma P. Hall, Frances Lee McCain, Harve Presnell, Peter Coyote, Michael Jeter, Richard Kiley, Ellen Albertini Dow, Jay Jacobus and Harold Gould.

Screenplay by Steve Oedekerk.

Directed by Tom Shadyac.

Distributed by Universal Pictures. 115 minutes. Rated PG-13.

What the heck happened to Robin Williams? He is a terrific comedian, and he can also be a very good dramatic actor – just check out his superb work in The World According to Garp or his rightfully acclaimed performances in the overrated films The Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting. So why does he keep getting involved in horrible pretentious claptrap like Patch Adams?

I’m sure he saw Oscars dancing in his head for this role of a selfless clown butting heads with the establishment in medical school. The problem is that as a character, Patch is not selfless. In fact, he is so full of himself and his cartoon rebellion against the amazingly unlikely med school faculty that he is nearly impossible to stomach. It is no great shakes to take a moral stand on something that everyone agrees with, and by making the establishment such unbelievable monsters the film just dilutes its point.

Even worse than that, the patented Williams schtick that is supposed to bring renewed joie de vivre to the dying urchins just isn’t funny. And the beautiful no-nonsense potential love interest would never give this jerk the time of day.

Patch Adams is Hollywood feel good button-pushing at its crassest. I can picture the pitch meeting where the execs happily exclaimed, "they’ll laugh at Robin, they’ll cry at the poor little sick kids, they’ll swoon at the love story." More likely we’ll wonder why we spent even a moment of our valuable lives on this garbage. (12/98)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©1998 All rights reserved. Posted: December 25, 1998.


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